:Every time we are with other people and you feel a fart coming on, we make a choice. Will we endure the gastrointestinal pressure from holding it in or the social pressure from letting it out? For women, the choice can have quite an impact, so it’s important to make the right call.
On average, women hold their farts more than men. Holding in farts is uncomfortable and can have negative side effects such as abdominal distension and bad breath. When the time comes to inevitably pass gas, the pressure can cause the farts to build up, becoming louder, larger and smellier than anticipated. The alternative to clenching, however, is considered by many a far worse fate.
Public spaces are often filled with people who would prefer not to hear or smell farts. A person who willingly lets out a stinky fart is choosing their own physical comfort above that of the people around them. There is also a chance someone will bring attention to the fart, adding to the potential for humiliation. Discussions of farts often carry an atmosphere of awkward embarrassment even for people who didn’t fart. Sometimes the topic is raised for the sole purpose of shaming whoever farted.
For women, public farting is an act of transgression against the male gaze. To have normal bodily functions without giving oneself intestinal pain is considered gross and unfeminine. For a woman to hold in a fart is an act of submission, both to the people in the immediate area that might not like to smell farts and to the patriarchy. She censors herself by shielding others from the reality of her farts — farts which likely contain an increased number of volatile sulfur compounds, which increase alongside stress levels and make farts smell even worse.
While many people choose to avoid farting around certain people for years, there is no long-term strategy to holding in farts. It is a widely known fact that everybody farts. Some people fart more often than others due to medical issues outside of their own control. Nobody would fart if they didn’t need to, but because we do, the best thing to do is normalize it.
It is up to us to choose between a world that smells bad sometimes and a world that unfairly polices women’s anuses. Public spaces will continue to be dominated by the farts of men until they are met with an equal adversary. Do it for equality. Just go in the other room if I’m eating.